Building from source using Cerbero

Warning This section is intended for advanced users.

Build requirements

The GStreamer build system provides bootstrapping facilities for all platforms, but it still needs a minimum base to bootstrap:

  • python >= 3.5
  • git

Windows users

Cerbero can be used on Windows using the Msys/MinGW shell (a Unix-like shell for Windows). There is a bit of setup that you need to do before Cerbero can take control.

You need to install the following programs:

  • Python 3.5+
    • First page of the installer
    • Check "Add Python 3.x to PATH"
    • Click "Customize installation"
    • Second page, check "pip"
    • Third page, select:
    • Install for all users
    • Associate files with Python
    • Add Python to environment variables
    • Customize install location: C:\Python3
  • Git
    • Select the install option "Checkout as-is, Commit as-is"
    • Ensure that git is installed in PATH, but no other tools are
  • Msys/MinGW (Install it with all the options enabled)
  • CMake (Select the option "Add CMake in system path for the current user")
  • Yasm (Download the win32 or win64 version for your platform, name it yasm.exe, and place it in your MinGW bin directory, typically, C:\MinGW\bin)
  • WiX 3.11.1

Several packages that have Meson build files are now built by default with Visual Studio, so you need to install Visual Studio 2015 or newer in the default location. The Visual Studio Community build which is free for open-source use can be installed at:


You should add the cerbero git directory to the list of excluded folders in your anti-virus, or you will get random build failures when Autotools does file operations such as renames and deletions. It will also slow your build by about 3-4x.

Your user ID can't have spaces (eg: John Smith). Paths with spaces are not correctly handled in the build system and msys uses the user ID for the home folder.

Cerbero must be run in the MinGW shell, which is accessible from the main menu once MinGW is installed.

(Note that inside the shell, / is mapped to c:\Mingw\msys\1.0 )

macOS users

To use cerbero on macOS you need to install the "Command Line Tools" from XCode. They are available from the "Preferences" dialog under "Downloads".

iOS developers

If you want to build GStreamer for iOS, you also need the iOS SDK. The minimum required iOS SDK version is 6.0 and is included in XCode since version 4.

Download the sources

To build GStreamer, you first need to download Cerbero. Cerbero is a multi-platform build system for Open Source projects that builds and creates native packages for different platforms, architectures and distributions.

Get a copy of Cerbero by cloning the git repository:

git clone

Cerbero can be run uninstalled and for convenience you can create an alias in your .bashrc file*. *If you prefer to skip this step, remember that you need to replace the calls to cerbero with ./cerbero-uninstalled in the next steps.

echo "alias cerbero='~/git/cerbero/cerbero-uninstalled'" >> ~/.bashrc

Setup environment

After Cerbero and the base requirements are in place, you need to setup the build environment.

Cerbero reads the configuration file $HOME/.cerbero/cerbero.cbc to determine the build options. This file is a python code which allows overriding/defining some options.

If the file does not exist, Cerbero will try to determine the distro you are running and will use default build options such as the default build directory. The default options should work fine on the supported distributions.

To fire up the bootstrapping process, go to the directory where you cloned/unpacked Cerbero and type:

cerbero bootstrap

Enter the superuser/root password when prompted.

The bootstrap process will then install all packages required to build GStreamer.

Build GStreamer

To generate GStreamer binaries, use the following command:

cerbero package gstreamer-1.0

This should build all required GStreamer components and create packages for your distribution at the Cerbero source directory.

A list of supported packages to build can be retrieved using:

cerbero list-packages

Packages are composed of 0 (in case of a meta package) or more components that can be built separately if desired. The components are defined as individual recipes and can be listed with:

cerbero list

To build an individual recipe and its dependencies, do the following:

cerbero build <recipe_name>

Or to build or force a rebuild of a recipe without building its dependencies use:

cerbero buildone <recipe_name>

To wipe everything and start from scratch:

cerbero wipe

Once built, the output of the recipes will be installed at the prefix defined in the Cerbero configuration file $HOME/.cerbero/cerbero.cbc or at $HOME/cerbero/dist if no prefix is defined.

Build a single project with GStreamer

Rebuilding the whole GStreamer is relatively fast on Linux and OS X, but it can be very slow on Windows, so if you only need to rebuild a single project (eg: gst-plugins-good to patch qtdemux) there is a much faster way of doing it. You will need to follow the steps detailed in this page, but skipping the step "Build GStreamer", and installing the GStreamer's development files as explained in Installing GStreamer.

By default, Cerbero uses as prefix a folder in the user directory with the following schema ~/cerbero/dist/$platform_$arch, but for GStreamer we must change this prefix to use its installation directory. This can be done with a custom configuration file named custom.cbc:

# For Windows x86

# For Windows x86_64

# For Linux

# For OS X

The prefix path might not be writable by your current user. Make sure you fix it before, for instance with:

$ sudo chown -R <username> /Library/Frameworks/GStreamer.framework/

Cerbero has a shell command that starts a new shell with all the environment set up to target GStreamer. You can start a new shell using the installation prefix defined in *custom.cbc *with the following command:

$ cerbero -c custom.cbc shell

Once you are in Cerbero's shell you can compile new projects targeting GStreamer using the regular build process:

$ git clone; cd gst-plugins-good
$ sh --disable-gtk-doc --prefix=<prefix>
$ make -C gst/isomp4

Cross-compilation of GStreamer

Cerbero can be used to cross-compile GStreamer to other platforms like Android or Windows. You only need to use a configuration file that sets the target platform, but we also provide a set of pre-defined configuration files for the supported platforms (you will find them in the config folder with the .cbc extension.


You can cross-compile GStreamer for Android from a Linux host using the configuration file config/cross-android.cbc. Replace all the previous commands with:

cerbero -c config/cross-android.cbc <command>


GStreamer can also be cross-compiled to Windows from Linux, but you should only use it for testing purpose. The DirectShow plugins cannot be cross-compiled yet and WiX can't be used with Wine yet, so packages can only be created from Windows.

Replace all the above commands for Windows 32bits with:

cerbero -c config/cross-win32.cbc <command>

Or with using the following for Windows 64bits:

cerbero -c config/cross-win64.cbc <command>


To cross compile for iOS from OS X, use the configuration file config/cross-ios-universal.cbc. Replace all previous commands with:

cerbero -c config/cross-ios-universal.cbc <command>

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